Rabat - In his King and People’s Revolution’s Day speech on Sunday night, King Mohammed VI made it clear that the conflict in Western Sahara is not the main drive behind Morocco’s African policy.
Rabat – In his King and People’s Revolution’s Day speech on Sunday night, King Mohammed VI made it clear that the conflict in Western Sahara is not the main drive behind Morocco’s African policy.
At the same time, he affirmed that this strategy is having an impact favorable to the kingdom as far as the issue is concerned. Such a change could not have been possible without a “firm” diplomacy.
“Our African policy has had a direct, positive impact on the question of our territorial integrity, be it with regard to states’ positions or the resolutions adopted by the African Union”, said the monarch.
While the King did not detail the positive impacts, going back a few weeks and months can provide us with the answers.
In early July, the African Union headquarters saw a first confrontation between Morocco, backed by a number of friendly African states, and the Polisario Front, shouldered by its sponsor Algeria and its staunch supporter South Africa.
Morocco objected the wording of a report by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) referring to Western Sahara as “occupied territories,” using the name Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) for Polisario, and calling for an AU mission to evaluate respect of human rights in the region.
The text was going to be adopted by the AU’s Executive Council, but pressure from Morocco and its allies compelled the council to modify its version.
The final text stated that the proposal to send a mission to the territories known by the United Nations as Western Sahara, and the AU as SADR, was supported by some member states and rejected by others.
“The Executive Council clearly notes that there was a debate over the issue, and that some countries were for and other against [the proposal],” said Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita, explaining that Morocco’s position has now been “taken into consideration” inside the AU, which was not the case before.
When King Mohammed VI mounted the AU tribune to deliver a historical speech on January 31, 39 African heads of states out of 54 attending the AU summit, had already back Morocco’s reintegration to the organization.
The strong support African member states showed to Morocco’s readmission to the AU was a confirmation that the kingdom’s African policy was on the right track.
As the King noted in his Sunday speech, the continental success of the Moroccan diplomacy in regard to the issue of Western Sahara is echoed by the positive results it has achieved internationally in defending the Morocco’s rights in the region and countering the maneuvers of its foes.
The King said that the positive impact of the country’s African policy “has given fresh momentum to the examination of this question at the United Nations.”
According to the King, 2016 was “the year of resolve and intransigence, during which we matched action with words to thwart the schemes designed to impinge on our rights,” likely in reference to the former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon’s “bias” towards Polisario Front when he visited Tindouf Camps in 2016 and referred to the Western Sahara as “occupied territories.”
In contrast, “2017 has been the year of clarity and of a return to the standards and principles for the settlement of the artificial dispute over the Moroccanness of the Sahara.”
The King praised Morocco’s “firm” and “proactive” policy in countering the schemes of its rivals, as was the case in the crisis of Guerguerat, which helped “put the process back on the right track.”
Antonio Guterres’ report differed from his predecessor’s report the year before. Unlike Ban Ki Moon, he did not recommend expanding the prerogatives of the MINURSO to include human rights monitoring in the Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps, and he did not mention the alleged exploitation of human resources. Instead, the report praised Morocco’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from Guerguerat in February following the Secretary-General’s request.
The UNSC Resolution 2351 welcomed Morocco’s efforts to find a solution to the Western Sahara dispute and called them “credible.”